Jewelers have traditionally learned their trade through long-term on-the-job training. This method is still common, particularly in jewelry manufacturing, but a growing number of workers now learn their skills at trade schools.
Many trade schools offer training for jewelers. Course topics can include introduction to gems and metals, resizing, repair, and computer-aided design (CAD). Programs vary from 6 months to 1 year, and many teach students how to design, cast, set, and polish jewelry and gems, as well as how to use and care for a jeweler’s tools and equipment. Graduates of these programs may be more attractive to employers because they require less on-the-job training.
Some students earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts or a master’s degree in jewelry design.
Some workers gain their skills through related work experience. This may include previous experience as a sales person in retail jewelry stores.
In jewelry manufacturing plants, workers develop their skills through informal apprenticeships and on-the-job training. The apprenticeship or training lasts up to 1 year, depending on the difficulty of the specialty. Training usually focuses on casting, setting stones, making models, or engraving.
Advancement opportunities are limited and depend on an individual's skill and initiative. In manufacturing, some jewelers advance to supervisory jobs, such as master jeweler or head jeweler. Jewelers who work in jewelry stores or repair shops may become managers; some open their own business.
Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers who want to open their own store should first establish themselves and build a reputation for their work within the jewelry trade. After they get sufficient sales, they can acquire the necessary inventory for a store from a jewelry wholesaler. Also, because the jewelry business is highly competitive, jewelers who plan to open their own store should have sales experience and knowledge of marketing and business management.
Artistic ability. Jewelers must have the ability to create designs that are unique and beautiful.
Detail oriented. Creating designs requires concentration and patience. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must be detail oriented to stay focused on their tasks.
Fashion sense. Jewelry designers must know what is stylish and attractive because that is what people are likely to buy.
Finger dexterity. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must precisely move their fingers in order to grasp, manipulate, and assemble very small objects.
Interpersonal skills. Whether selling products in stores or at craft shows, jewelers and precious stone and metal workers interact with customers.
Visualization skills. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must imagine how something might look after its shape is altered or when its parts are rearranged.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition